In April 2020, Inspire PR Group partnered with full-service market research firm, Illuminology, to deploy a nationwide survey, Eating 2020: How COVID-19 Will Change Consumer Engagement With Food, which gauged more than 1,800 U.S. consumers’ food purchasing trends before, during and after the national pandemic COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions.

The research measured 1,300 U.S. consumers and an additional sample of 500 Ohio consumers. The survey asked respondents about their grocery and restaurant behaviors in the first two months of 2020 before COVID-19 became a crisis in the U.S., during stay-at-home orders in April, and how consumers anticipate their behaviors will change in the first 60 days following when orders are lifted.

Key results indicate:

  • Health and safety will remain a top concern for consumers once stay-at-home restrictions are lifted.
  • Grocery chains saw a surge of new customers in April 2020 for online pickup and online delivery orders, but these platforms are likely to see significant declines back to pre-COVID-19 levels or lower after stay-at-home restrictions are lifted.
  • Consumers who dined in at restaurants before the pandemic are likely to return when restaurant-specific orders lift. However, projections suggest that there could be a 20 percent difference in dine-in traffic over pre-COVID-19 levels. Restaurants that focus more on quality dine-in experiences (e.g. upscale restaurants, local/neighborhood restaurants, and fast casual restaurants) are more likely to return to pre-COVID-19 levels.

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